PORTLAND — Police in southern Oregon held an unlikely suspect overnight: an adorable black bear cub.
Myrtle Creek Police Chief Don Brown says a teen boy and his parents dropped off the cub in a large plastic storage bin at the police station Monday. The teen found the small animal whimpering in the bushes outside his house on the outskirts of town.
He told police the bear’s mother was nowhere in sight.
Still, Brown said it was dangerous for the teen to pick up the cub, because the mother bear could have spotted him and attacked. Adult female black bears can weigh up to 300 pounds.
The 12-pound cub was “very well behaved” while spending the night at the station, Brown said.
Police and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials looked for the cub’s mother the next day using a device that mimics a cub distress call, but couldn’t find her.
The orphaned cub is now at the University of Oregon receiving a veterinary checkup. Fish and Wildlife officials said the cub is a female and is in generally good health, other than being underweight.
They said the cub will be placed at a zoo, but they didn’t yet know which one.
Oregon is home to 25,000 to 30,000 black bears. Myrtle Creek, 90 miles south of Eugene, has an abundance of wildlife, the police chief said. Residents often call authorities about bear and cougar sightings.
“We’ve had two baby rattlesnakes brought into the station, but nobody has brought in a bear in the last nine years I’ve been here,” Brown said.
Wildlife officials say they do not know what happened to the cub’s mother. Spring bear hunting season kicked off April 1 in Oregon, but it’s illegal to kill sows with cubs that are less than a year old.
Officials say no dead bear has been found in the area, no hunter has reported killing one, and there have been no reports of a bear being hit by a car.